16 years old and going strong; the Syston Scout & Guide Band annual variety show took place at Wreake Valley School on the 22nd February 2020. Sticks & Tones is written, produced and performed by band members and always promises a packed programme of music, dance, comedy and sketches. For those on stage and behind the scenes, the afternoon and evening shows are the culmination of a few months of planning, practice and fun. 

The band were sorry to lose their friend Dave Lucas in 2019. Dave joined the band as a young boy, played the bugle in the band, and taught many others as a bugle instructor. Our show this year served as a tribute to him, beginning with a video celebrating Dave’s involvement and friendships in the band. A recording of Dave playing the bugle introduction to the piece ‘High on a Hill’ signalled the start of the finale.   

After a Greatest Showman themed dance, the band were welcomed on stage by supportive audiences. The running order was as follows: Glenfield 1, Soldier Soldier, Royal Green Jackets, Drum Display (2009), Buglers Fanfare, In the Mood, Mission Impossible, Robin Hood, Blaydon Races. Hayden and Tom played the introduction to Soldier Soldier, and Becky played well on the Bell Lyre in her first show. The bugles played their fanfare confidently and the drummers evidenced their enjoyment of the Blaydon Races piece through their increase in volume. Band members reported that they could feel the stage shaking! 

The Drill Squad performed their routine. Normally under heavy scrutiny of a panel of competition judges, the 8 strong group of band members worked well together to march and stay in perfect sync. All under the age of 18, practicing the technical routine requires dedication and concentration, which didn’t go unnoticed by the audience. Breaking competition norms, next up was an alternative drill routine to pop music, which had the audience clapping along to the dance-like routine.  

In the next number, the drummers were sitting an exam, under the watchful eye of strict school teacher Pam. When she left the stage, the students began tapping a beat on their desks, but had to put a stop to it on her return. Eventually, the full cast, teacher included, are drumming loudly, under the direction of Oliver. Perhaps the most fun had in an exam ever! 

Following the popular display ‘Legs Eleven’ by the girls of the band last year, the group stepped up to the mark once again with their sketch ‘Band Babes’ Dressed as toddler’s with attached; a big well done to the costume teams for their hard work! 

Syston were delighted to invite the other Leicestershire Scout & Guide Bands to perform in the show. In the first half, Thurmaston took to the stage and played a mix of drum displays and popular themes. Half of the band were away at a national Guiding event at the NEC, yet this didn’t stop them. The Wallace & Gromit, and Avenger themes went down particularly well with the audience.   

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Chris plays Mr Bean in the allelujah sketch to conclude the first half. The most difficult part for the band was not to laugh while Alan delivered a mumbling sermon about rivers and the natural world, and Chris had difficulty staying alert. 

John was the compere once again for the show; introducing the acts and offering insight into the band’s activities for the past year. He was assisted along by a couple of juggling acts from Scott, who ate an apple whilst juggling and later gave impressions of juggling styles from around the World. 

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Back for the second half, we kicked off with the Not So Full Monty. Cue the rip off trousers and muscular t-shirts! This sketch was done in the very first show, and was directed by Dave, and so the piece served as a tribute. A good laugh for all involved. 

Whilst the stage crew collected 8 pairs of trousers from the audience, it was time for our second invited band, Oadby & Wigston to showcase their own musical talent. A fully chromatic band, we were treated to a medley containing music from the Greatest Showman and Pirates of the Caribbean, then also played the time warp –  a great mix of music for us to enjoy.    

The next sketch was the Play that goes wrong. It was difficult to tell if when it went wrong it was through genuine error, or whether it was a planned mistake – such was the high quality of acting! The stage crew assembled the set for the next sketch in the background.   

Have you ever wondered how chocolates are individually wrapped so neatly? We were left none the wiser after the Chocolate Sketch, which saw band members try to keep up with an accelerating production under the reprimand of Emma. Sweets fly all over the place, and Cadbury’s haven’t offered us any jobs yet!  

In the final sketch of the show, we learnt of the wonderful gifts brought back when My Grandmother went to Paris. For some reason, this drove a few volunteer members of the audience absolutely cuckoo. 

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Onto the finale, we were pleased to be joined on stage by Thurmaston and Oadby & Wigston Scout & Guide Bands. Our thanks to Neil Wright, Chairman of the British Youth Band Association (BYBA) for conducting the massed band through pieces High on a Hill, December 1963, Bugler’s Nocturne, Olympic Spirit, and Mechanised Infantry. The Olympic Spirit was a new piece to many of us, and one which we especially enjoyed playing. Syston’s trademark piece of Mechanised Infantry made a return in the encore, played at the light infantry pace of 140bpm… to start with. Pushed by an enthusiastic pair of bass drums (sorry bell lyres) we finished a little faster than this! 

We are grateful to the cast, the crew, and to everyone who came to watch Sticks & Tones 2020. We’ll be back next year with more musical entertainment. The band‘s focus now turns to learning this season’s display, ready for competitions to begin in the Summer.  

Written by Scott Jenkins, Band Member.

Sound like something you would like to be a part of? 

Syston Scout Group are always looking for new members and adult volunteers to help make Scouting in Syston great. If you can spare a few hours a week, why not get in touch and help young people develop #SkillsForLife. Contact us on 0116 326 6908 or email info@systonscouts.org.uk 

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